Opinion » Letters

A need for urgency

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The Shredder is always tongue-in-cheek funny, but this time she/he did a disservice to SLO County and the residents of the California Valley, in the July 28 op-ed “Welcome to the Wild West.” 

There is a serious, quickly developing situation out there—fraught with rampant code and public health violations—that is overwhelming our county enforcement agencies. The activities out there are not all “legal,” and the dangers that are being created are not “much ado about nothing.” 

What the Shredder got right is the gold rush mentality, driven by sheer, unabashed greed. It’s not the resident farmers who are a problem, but the swarms of out-of-state and out-of-area gold diggers who are not following the county codes for suburban residential zoning. They are clearing every inch of life off the land; pitching tents or broken-down trailers; using bottomless (no pun intended) outhouses; polluting the sparse groundwater with feces, chemical fertilizers, and rodenticides; erecting makeshift fences; and draining the community CSD well (and burning up its pumps) because they don’t have their own legal wells—all for the purpose of exploiting the land and resources for the promise of a quick buck, with no intention of living there. 

The wholesale environmental destruction to this sensitive San Joaquin grasslands ecosystem is much like what Justin Vineyards recently did to the oak woodlands on its property. Regardless of what type of crop is being grown, basic codes of law, ethics, and stewardship must be adhered to in civilized society. 

The urgency ordinance the county is crafting is drastically needed. 

Sheriff Parkinson is underfunded and understaffed to deal with the growing security problems these fly-by-night cannabis “farms” are creating, and county code enforcement officers are overwhelmed by the number of violations. 

Supervisors Debbie Arnold, Lynn Compton, and Frank Mecham did the right thing in voting for an urgency ordinance, and I am confident Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson will support it by the time it is drafted and they have acquired “enough information.” I urge the Shredder and the other Supervisors to take a trip out to the California Valley, like Arnold and Compton have done, and see for yourselves if this is what you would like to see in your neighborhood and your county.

-- Patrick McGibney - farm owner, California Valley

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